Improve Your Professional ReputationIn business today, your first impression often happens well before you actually “meet” a new contact. Whether they’ve heard about you from a friend or they’ve looked you up on the internet, your connections won’t wait to form their own opinions about you. As a result, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your reputation helps you more than it hurts you.

With that in mind, here are 3 simple steps to get your professional reputation in tip-top shape:

Step 1: Confirm your current baseline.

For anything you want to improve (including your professional reputation), you should first figure out exactly where you’re starting from. This is your “baseline.”

In this case, the best place to start is by searching for yourself on multiple search engines (bing, google) and various social media platforms (twitter, linkedin, facebook). Then, check in with your industry contacts – ask if they’d be willing to share anything they’ve heard about you from others and take note of how they describe you in recommendations, introductions, etc.

** Don’t worry if it isn’t all positive (that’s normal) – after all, it’s impossible to be a perfect person… Whatever comes up, whether it’s good, bad, neutral, or non-existent, it’s helpful to know!

Step 2: Choose a path to gain credibility. 

There are dozens of ways to gain credibility, but you won’t know what works (and may even feel overwhelmed) if you try to make too many changes at once. So, start with one opportunity and promote your results, for example:

  • Education – Earn a certificate, certification, or an advanced degree related to your current business or something you’re passionate about.
  • Press – Get quoted or get published in an industry journal, podcast, or your own article on a free publishing platform like LinkedIn (bonus: positive press is a great way to bury any negative search results quickly).
  • Awards – Nominate yourself (or ask someone you know to nominate you) for an impressive award within your industry or local community – you deserve it!

** If you’re like many professionals, you’ll find that promoting yourself and your accomplishments feels a little uncomfortable at first. Don’t worry – your community will enjoy celebrating with you, as long as you’re willing to share the spotlight with others from time to time too.

Step 3: Continue and repeat this process consistently.

A wise person once said, “It takes years to build your reputation, but only seconds to destroy it.”

Today, news travels faster than ever before (especially when it’s a scandal)… and, essentially, it lives on the internet forever… so, you’ll need to keep this statement top of mind moving forward and avoid derailing all of your hard work with any silly mistakes.

** Once you’ve proven your credibility in one area, start again in another, and another, and another, until you’ve solidified your status as a fully well-rounded “impressive professional,” and everyone who matters to you knows it.

Don’t forget – reputation building is a lifelong effort, but by following the steps outlined above, you can make improvements little by little and, before you know it, you’ll be sure to get the recognition you deserve (along with the related benefits you’ve always wanted)!

** Need more ideas or advice on this topic? Join Robyn in Trade Show Summer School for a free webinar about “How to Strengthen Your Professional Reputation” on July 29 at 2 p.m. ET. Register (for free) at

Subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor for more valuable expert perspectives.